Good Riddance, Boris Johnson
The U.K. politician known for Brexit, general racism, and brazenly flouting Covid-19 rules is finally stepping down.
Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that he was resigning as a British lawmaker, after learning he would be sanctioned for misleading Parliament.
Johnson stepped down as prime minister in July, following the bombshell revelations that he and members of his Cabinet had violated U.K. Covid-19 protocols multiple times with wild parties at his office at 10 Downing Street. Johnson admitted in March that he misled Parliament about the so-called “Partygate,” but he denied doing so intentionally. Now he is resigning from his role as Conservative member of Parliament, effective immediately.
Here’s a look back at some of the worst things Johnson has said and done as a public servant.
1. No plan for Brexit
Johnson was one of the key campaigners for Brexit, which he ultimately oversaw during his premiership. But he never expected it to actually happen, according to a biography of him published in May.
“What the hell is happening?” Johnson kept saying after the vote results came in. “Oh shit, we’ve got no plan. We haven’t thought about it.”
The U.K. did finally leave the European Union under Johnson’s leadership. But Brexit, and the deal Johnson negotiated, were a total flop, sticking the U.K. with the lowest economic growth rate of all G7 nations. The International Monetary Fund expects it to be the only leading global economy to shrink this year.
2. Burqas look like “letter boxes”
Johnson compared women wearing burqas to “letter boxes” in a 2018 column for The Telegraph. In his opinion, it was “absolutely ridiculous” that people “choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”
He felt that people should be “fully entitled” to ask a woman to remove her burqa so that they can “talk to her properly.”
3. Bashar Al Assad should “keep going”
In a 2016 column for The Telegraph, Johnson said that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad should be allowed to keep doing his thing because he saved Palmyra from ISIS.
“Hooray, I say. Bravo—and keep going,” Johnson wrote. “Yes, I know. Assad is a monster, a dictator. He barrel-bombs his own people. His jails are full of tortured opponents. He and his father ruled for generations by the application of terror and violence—and yet there are at least two reasons why any sane person should feel a sense of satisfaction at what Assad’s troops have accomplished.” (The two reasons were ISIS and archaeology.)
4. The Holocaust was an attempt to recreate the “golden age” of Europe
Also in 2016, Johnson said the Roman Empire had been a “golden age” that saw Europe unified under a single government. The continent’s past 2,000 years were filled with attempts to recreate that political system.
“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” Johnson told The Telegraph. “The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”
5. Black people have “watermelon smiles”
In 2002, Johnson wrote in The Telegraph about a visit then–Prime Minister Tony Blair made to Africa. “What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England,” Johnson said.
“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies,” he wrote. He also described African people as having “watermelon smiles.”
6. Colonialism in Africa should never have ended
Johnson was editor of the conservative magazine The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. In 2002, he wrote an article arguing that Africa would be in better shape if British colonialism had never ended.
“The continent may be a blot, but it is not a blot upon our conscience,” he wrote in the piece. “The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more.”
In the same article, Johnson downplayed Britain’s role in the slave trade and suggested that Ugandans would never have been able to grow a variety of crops. He also managed to blame Vietnam for low coffee prices.